Monday, March 24, 2014

One Game at a Time

By: Samantha Burden

The Carle Place Girls Basketball team, located on Long Island, had never made it to a county championship game in the entire history of their program. Always seeming to fall short in the past, the players on the 2013-2014 team decided that would not be the case this year.

Buildng a 14-5 record, the girls worked hard to obtain the number one seed going into the playoffs, defeating tough teams such as Friends Academy, Seaford, and Oyster Bay, to name few. “We took every game one by one, not looking ahead and just focusing on the task at hand,” said four-year coach Mike Bello, who added, “this has been one of the most talented teams I have coached in several years at this school.”

With a total population of 400 students, Carle Place High School is limited in their selection of athletes and are often at a disadvantage compared to larger schools with bigger “pools” of athletes.

“When you have to ask girls to play, that’s when you know you’re at a small school,” said Bello, “…at times, it can be a frustrating aspect of sports here at this school but Carle Place is a town that places a huge importance on athletics; I think we are luckier than we think. I always have a great group of girls to work with.”

So, despite what may be seen as a setback, the girls’ basketball team had worked hard to obtain the first seed in Class B league and make it into the playoffs.

Playoff games had not been strangers to players on the team; with six upperclassmen, the girls had experienced that kind of atmosphere in their earlier years of play, but unfortunately for Carle Place, always ending in heartbreak.

“Well, we’ve definitely been here before,” said junior point guard and leading scorer Sarah Pisani. “Most of us know what this is like, what the pressure is like…but we knew we were not going to let it get to us this year. This was our year to overcome it.” 

And that they did.

The Carle Place women’s basketball team defeated the Malvern Mules in a convincing 45-30 win in order to make it to the county championship game, something no team in Carle Place women’s basketball history had done before. When asked “How were you guys able to finally accomplish this goal?” Coach Bello answered, “Hard-work and focus. Taking it one play at a time and playing smart. This is a huge accomplishment for our program.”

Although Carle Place lost to rival Oyster Bay in the County Championship game, 65-49, the girls ended the season with their heads held high. Despite the loss of five key seniors next season, returning sophomore Kacey Burden said, “We will take away this loss and use it to get better next year, so when we find ourselves in this game again, we will be able to pull off the win.”

This year second place, what will come next year? When asked, Coach Bello said, “I’m not going to get ahead of myself, it took a lot to get here and we have to remember that. It’s all about starting over from here.” A coach sticking to his philosophy: one game at a time.

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